Last weekend I nipped off on a trip to that fair Isle of Wight, with Laurie and my housemate Debbie who is working towards her PhD in genetics. We were collecting hair samples for DNA extraction and had joined up with volunteers for the People's Trust for Endangered Species, monitoring Dormouse populations on the island.
Step 1. Finding the woodland...
Step 2. Finding the correct bit of woodland
Step 3. Finding ridiculously small nest boxes within forests of bramble and densely coppiced Hazel.
These woodlands at Briddlesford were fantastically well-managed by the PTES, but this did mean the terrain was tough, with areas of brambles at chest-height. Goose-stepping all day is hard work!
As deer are absent from the island, a lack of grazing pressure results in healthy woodland understory
The Hazel Dormouse is a protected species in the UK and their populations have declined historically, so this data is all valuable and could contribute towards the conservation of this species.
Sleepy Dormouse mother with babies
Juveniles, individually weighed before being popped back into their nest
Mum receives a small hair pluck before being safely returned to the nest box
In the end we got lots of data for Debs, plus the Isle of Wight offered up some other niceties:
Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) juveniles in a Dormouse box
Wood Cricket (Nemobius sylvestris), a nationally scarce species.
These were quietly churring in the background
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) on Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)
Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar
A Linyphia spider, possibly L.triangularis
We were also treated to a sighting of the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), but kinda like my birding photos...
Yeah no chance.